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COVID-19 Roundup: Flu Comeback Stalls, New ‘Combo’ Respiratory Virus Test

March 05, 2024

The flu’s comeback appears to have leveled off, as hospitals and health systems continue to monitor the final leg of respiratory virus season.

This winter, Pennsylvania hospitals have taken proactive steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the flu, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and we are starting to see signs that spring is on the way.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • State of the spread:  Following a slight comeback in February, case counts for all types of the flu decreased slightly compared to previous weeks, the Department of Health (DOH) reported.
    • Last week, about 12.75 percent of emergency department visits were for respiratory symptoms compared to 18.9 percent late last year, per the DOH.
    • For COVID-19, national emergency department visits (-14.6%) and hospitalizations (-10.3%) are declining, according to the latest CDC data.
  • COVID-19 isolation guidance:  As reported last week, the CDC has issued new recommendations for isolation for COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses in community settings.
    • The guidance says individuals with a respiratory virus can return to normal activities if their symptoms are improving for 24 hours and their fever symptoms have subsided without the use of medication.
  • Single test:  Last month, the FDA issued an emergency authorization for a new “combo test” for COVID-19 and Flu A and B. The single-use, over-the-counter test is for people 14 and older, and 2 or older when an adult collects the nasal swab specimens.
  • Take action:  The deadline to order free COVID-19 tests from the federal government is Friday.  Each order includes four individual tests per household.
  • Quotable:  “The bottom line is that when people follow these actionable recommendations to avoid getting sick, and to protect themselves and others if they do get sick, it will help limit the spread of respiratory viruses, and that will mean fewer people who experience severe illness,” Dr. Demetre Daskalakis, director for the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said in a statement last week.

HAP continues to encourage the public to take action to prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses. This includes staying home when sick and following the latest public health guidelines.

Learn more about the CDC’s respiratory guidance for COVID-19 and the flu online.